[Article] Why has Singapore failed to prepare its citizens adequately for the knowledge economy

A scholarly and well-articulated essay written by respected blogger – Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh, who has worked for a couple of years at the Business Intelligence Unit at the Economist.

I myself am a product of Singapore’s education system and I have worked at a government agency for a couple of years. This was before I took a plunge into the unknown by enrolling myself in a new media art course in an art school here. All my life I have been subjected to the government system – its media, education system, civil service culture, serving national service for 2.5 years. And there had been many a times when I felt out of place in the system or that something was wrong with the larger picture but I could not quite place it. But eventually when social media came about and I read about how others felt the same way I did, I felt increasingly like Truman in The Truman Show when he discovers that his whole life has been a fake constructed reality for a television show.

I empathise with what this article is saying. For example, that our education system is rather dysfunctional in the current knowledge economy, and that the ideological bias of the government who dominates the economy here is outdated and outmoded, being based in the mindset of the industrial revolution.

Paper qualifications don’t mean much in this new economy but mindsets and the ability to innovate are. Rote learning in our education pedagogy is irrelevant in the information age, but multi-disciplinary thinking and ability to synthesise and execute ideas are important.

I blame our media and socio-political environment. There is censorship and control by the government everywhere. The mainstream media is becoming increasingly irrelevant compared to social media due to censorship and functioning merely a mouthpiece for the government. Artists cannot express themselves freely lest their funding is cut by the government. The SMEs (small and medium enterprises) are also crowded out by the monopoly of huge GLCs (government linked companies). National service which all Singaporean males have to go through, is about a military culture of unquestioning obedience that is at odds with the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit essential to the new economy.

I think it all boils down to a lack of respect of the individual here. This is also why Singapore’s track record on human rights is poor. Sigh.

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